Who are you?
Richard Nahem, born and raised in New York City. I was a chef and caterer in New York for 21 years before I moved to Paris. I now have a successful private tour business www.eyepreferparistours.com where I show clients the insiders Paris they never usually see on their own and I also write a popular blog since 2006 www.ipreferparis.net, an insiders guide to Paris with posts about culture, art, food, shopping, and history.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?I moved to Paris in August 2005 from New York. I had always dreamed of living in Paris since I first visited in the late 1970s and finally made my dream come true.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Shipping all my stuff over from NYC and getting my identity card.
How did you find somewhere to live?
I was very lucky, I found my dream apartment within two weeks through a storefront real estate agency I stumbled upon and the process was not that hard. A week later I moved in, The only thing one has to watch out for in Paris, is even thought it’s technically illegal, many landlords ask foreign renters for six months or one year additional rent held in escrow. Ours only asked for three months but when we signed the lease they forgot to include it, so I just had to pay the standard one-month’s rent, one-month security.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, I have met and became friendly with other American expats in the area and around the city.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Parisians are not as open as New Yorkers and sometimes it takes much longer to get to know them.
What do you like about life where you are?
I enjoy the culture and beauty of the city so much. I also enjoy my career as a tour guide showing off the treasures of the city and also finding things to write about on my blog. Even though it’s a big city, life is a little more leisurely than it was in New York/ New York is a lot more high pressure and more competitive.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I think the French can be negative and will say no before they say yes. Getting things done in the US was so much easier. Sometimes even the simplest of things in Paris are difficult to come by.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
New York is a very fast paced city and people work and live efficiently without wasting a lot of time. Paris runs much slower and is much more provincial. Simple daily errands take twice as long. Also the shop hours in Paris are much more limited than NYC where almost everything is open 7 days a week. For example, my supermarket doesn’t open till 8:30 Am & closes at 8:30PM, & only opens till 1PM on Sunday. It’s frustrating because it I run out of eggs in the morning, I have to wait to 8:30 till the supermarket opens.
How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?
Most shopping in my area is done through individual shops, especially with food. Although there are supermarkets that stock everything from A-Z like the USA, it’s nice shopping for cheese at the cheese monger, fresh baked daily bread at the bakery, wine at the wine shop, etc. For clothes shopping there are many individually owned small specialty boutiques in my area that offer more unusual things than the big chain shops in the US.
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
The food is fantastic and the products are superior in France, like the fruits and vegetables, dairy products, cheeses, meats, and amazing fresh seafood. The only thing I don’t like is most of the local restaurants have more or less the same menu, so there isn’t much variety and also not as many ethnic restaurants as New York.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Make sure you have a sound economic plan. Don’t move here with three months savings and expect to find a job.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on staying in Paris indefinitely as I like my life here and have well established myself. I also love what I do.